Three suicide bombs, several shootings shake Iraqi capital

Three suicide car bombs, including one targeting a U.S. convoy, and several shootings killed at least six Iraqis in Baghdad on Wednesday, as a weeklong surge of violence by insurgents continued on the streets of the capital.

South of the city, one Iraqi policeman was killed and two were seriously wounded when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb in the town of Mowailha, said police Capt. Muthana AL-Furati.

The bloodletting followed a day when insurgents killed at least 15 people in Iraq, including two U.S. soldiers hit by a suicide bomber in Baghdad, and a former aide to Saddam Hussein's half brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, who was gunned down in southern Iraq, officials said.

On Wednesday, a car bomb exploded near a U.S. convoy in an area of western Baghdad where the notorious Abu Ghraib prison is located, setting an oil tanker on fire, said police Maj. Moussa Abdulkarim. Two Iraqis were killed and five wounded, said Hussam Abdulrazaq, an official at the nearby al-Yarmouk Hospital. The U.S. military had no immediate information on the incident.

The two other car bombs exploded in southern Baghdad. One missed a police convoy but hit a civilian car, killing two Iraqis and wounding four, said police Cap. Falah al-Muhamadwai. The other exploded in a car park near Bilat al-Shuhada police station in Dora area, wounding four civilians, said police Lt. Hassan Falah.

In Sadr city, a poor section of eastern Baghdad, gunmen in a speeding car fired on policeman Ali Talib as he walked toward his car, killing him, said Col. Hussein Abdulwahid of the local police force. In another part of east Baghdad, gunmen attacked a Health Ministry car, killing the driver and wounding one unidentified passenger, said police Col. Hassan Jaloub.

On Tuesday night, an attack by a suicide car bomber near an American patrol in southern Baghdad killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded four, Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, a spokesman for America's 3rd Infantry Division, said Wednesday. Seven Iraqi civilians also were rushed to Al-Yarmouk Hospital with injuries, an official there said.

In the southern city of Basra, Abdulal al-Batat, a former aide to Saddam's half brother al-Hassan, was killed Tuesday when gunmen fired at him outside his home, said police Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaydi.

Al-Hassan, who was suspected of financing insurgents after U.S. troops ousted Saddam in 2003, was captured in Syria and turned over to Iraqi authorities in February.

Al-Qaida in Iraq, the nation's most feared terror group, claimed responsibility for Tuesday's worst attack, a suicide bombing near an army recruitment center in Baghdad that police said killed at least six Iraqis and wounded 44.

For the past week, there has been a surge of violence by militants across the capital, with explosions often going off one after another in the morning.

Tuesday's violence occurred as Iraq's interim parliament met to discuss the technicalities of setting up a new government and writing a constitution. The session was sidetracked when a Shiite legislator linked to a radical anti-American cleric tearfully said he had been handcuffed and humiliated at a U.S. checkpoint on his way to work. The assembly demanded an U.S. apology and the prosecution of the soldier involved.

Lawmaker Fattah al-Sheik claimed an American soldier kicked his car, mocked the legislature, handcuffed him and held him by the neck.

"What happened to me represents an insult to the whole National Assembly that was elected by the Iraqi people. This shows that the democracy we are enjoying is fake," al-Sheik said. "Through such incidents, the U.S. Army tries to show that it is the real controlling power in the country, not the new Iraqi government."

The U.S. military said its initial investigation indicated that in the morning, al-Sheik got into an altercation with a coalition translator at the checkpoint. U.S. soldiers tried to separate them and "briefly held on to the legislator," while preventing another member of al-Sheik's party from getting out of his vehicle, a military statement said.

"We have the highest respect for all members of the Transitional National Assembly. Their safety and security is critically important," U.S. Brig. Gen. Karl R. Horst said in the statement. "We regret this incident occurred and are conducting a thorough investigation."

Al-Sheik's small party has been linked to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led uprisings against the U.S.-led coalition in 2004. On his way home after the session, gunmen fired on al-Sheik's convoy, but he escaped unharmed, police and his party said.

Each day this week, the legislature's opening session on current affairs has extended well beyond the scheduled 30 minutes. Legislators have discussed traffic jams in Baghdad, Saddam Hussein's alleged war crimes, claims that hostages were being held south of Baghdad and al-Sheik's complaint. Coffee breaks, lunch and lengthy debates over issues such as how long each legislator should be allowed to speak have taken up the rest of the day.

SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer

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